The number of families adopting has almost doubled. If you're even thinking about joining this amazing club—or if someone you love is—know this: While the legal part can be daunting, once it's over, it's over. But unsuspected medical issues can affect your adopted child for a lifetime. Pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, RealAge's children's health expert, explains what it's critical to find out.
Madonna. Angelina. Sandra. It's hot to adopt. Okay, so you're not a celebrity known worldwide (neither am I), but you have a lot in common with them: You need to go into adoption with your eyes wide open and gather every shred of health information you can about the tiny new person you hope to bring home.
No matter where you adopt—whether domestically or abroad—you will encounter unexpected health issues. For starters, the biological mothers of adopted children don't always get good prenatal care or know much about their own family's medical history. Medical or emotional issues can pop up at any age. Still, having a newborn health history is helpful. When a baby is adopted from overseas, you may have nothing more to go on than a video or picture.
And adopted children aren't returnable, at least not without heartbreak. Who will ever forget the disturbing story of Torry Hansen, the Tennessee mother who sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia alone, with a note saying she didn't want him because he was mentally unstable. Because of that incident, Russian officials threatened to halt all adoptions to the United States.
You need to track down whatever background information you can find so that if a health issue comes up, you can help your pediatrician diagnose and treat it quickly.
6 ways you can educate yourself